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Who is behind Sketchnote Army?

Mike Rohde, creator: Designer, author of The Sketchnote Handbook & Workbook, and illustrator, living in Wisconsin.

Mauro Toselli, curator: IT Director, sketchnoter, author, living in Italy.

Binaebi Akah, curator: Sr. UX Designer, sketchnoter, author, living in Ohio.

How can I be showcased on Sketchnote Army?
Fill this form! It's as simple as that! We would love to feature your work.

Sketchnoter's Stories you may like

Notes from an AIGA conference: Abbie Bacilla

Here is sketchnote by Abbie Bacilla .

She wrote;

Notes from an AIGA conference by Scotty Russell. It was a super inspiring speech, I have this page of notes to look at whenever I feel adrift. 

I like the good use of handwritten typography to make the different sections stand out.

Great Work Abbie!

- Mauro



Sketchnoters' Stories - I Didn’t Even Know That Sketchnoting Was a “Thing” : Kiel Giese


Our today's guest is Kiel Giese

When I found him video on Twitter it was "natural" to ask him to share its story: and here it is.


I Didn’t Even Know That Sketchnoting Was a “Thing”

I didn’t just start sketchnoting.  In fact, I didn’t even know that it was a “thing”.  It was something that I had stumbled upon after following people like Kasey Bell and Doug Neill on Twitter.  I’ve done other types of videos that I shared with my students as a resource to help them outside of Social Studies classes.  Basically, it was more of the same, but I excused it because it was in a “condensed” time frame.  As you can imagine, these videos did not get much use.  (I put privacy settings on them so that only certain people could see them.  It's intimidating to work on something and have people critique it.)  In my defense, I don’t think it was a bad idea, it was just the wrong idea.  Sometimes, you have to get out of your comfort zone and open yourself to a little criticism and I was average at drawing, so, I decided to put myself out there and give sketchnoting a try.

Aside from putting your creation out there for everyone to see, getting to the point that I was ready to put my artistic skills on camera was tough.  I wanted everything to look perfect.  I knew I needed some practice, so I started by incorporating sketchnoting into my routine.  As I started doing better, I realized that I needed some “go-to” symbols that I can rely on.  (Thanks, Doug Neill!!)

Here are a few of my symbols that I use, or can see using, in my notes.  This continues to grow, but these are the ones that I felt that I needed before I continued.  I used some that already existed and some were trial and error projects until I reached the symbols that I wanted.

Once I had a grasp of symbols, it was the structure.  All of the examples that I saw on Twitter were beautiful. Every Sketchnoter had some sort of design that amazed, but, also, mystified me.  As I continued to practice, I started to realize (mostly from Neill’s video series) that each session could be a different structure based on the information.  After all of the practice, I decided to give it a try.  I had my numerous rough drafts outside of the camera lens and hit record…

The whole process has been a lot of fun and the Internet henchmen have been relatively easy on me!  In fact, most of the feedback that I have received has been very positive.  Student feedback has been minimal, but some have recognized my writing and drawing which leads me to believe that they are watching least, more than the other videos!

Kiel Giese

I do love this video!

Thank you very much for sharing with us Kiel!

- Mauro


First Sketchnote: Lee Andrew Hilyer

Today we are featuring Lee Andrew Hilyer's first sketchnote.

He wrote:

This was my very first sketchnote! I made it during a brief presentation on user experience by Daniel Pshock.

Love it, Lee Andrew!

Keep going!

- Mauro



First Sketchnote: Michael Knoll

Here is one of the first sketchnote by Michael Knoll .

He wrote:

My first try in sketchnoting for my company on the 'large agile practionioner summit ' at the SAP university in autumn 2015.

An outstandig start!

Keep ging Michael!

- Mauro



Sketchnoters' Stories - "Photos and Sketchnotes of my trip in India": Claudio Nichele


Today's story is from Claudio Nichele .

I refrain mysel to anticipate anything, just enjoy the story!

Photos and sketchnotes of my trip in India

I prepared well in advance all practical details of this solo trip to India, like visa, vaccines, drugs, itinerary, hotels, etc.  My goal was a journey which makes me grow internally rather than only enjoy the visit to tourist places. Therefore I also prepared myself to accept the unexpected as part of the journey. See my sketchnotes one month before leaving about that. 

India: First post

I also prepared carefully my material for photography and for sketchnotes. Considering my desire to travel light, I chose the essentials only. One notebook, 3 black markers (0.2, 0.5, 0.8), one marker for shadows, my favourite black pencil, a set of Faber-Castell watercolour pencils, an eraser and a pencil sharpener. All these preparations turned out to be what I've had need, no more no less.

Sketchnotes from India -  my itinerary

One thing only did not go as I had imagined it: sketchnoting on place! Before leaving I planned to sketch during the day and every evening what I've seen, learnt and experienced during that day. This plan was based on wrong assumptions; that I would have had the availability, the right conditions and the proper mental state. I was immediately faced to a different reality. 

Delhi - Pahar Ganj area

My first days were very intense with a tour by car (with a driver with me). I visited many cities and beautiful sites on the pre-established itinerary from Delhi to Jaipur, then Agra, then Delhi again.

On a rickshaw in Haridwar

Between Jaipur and Fatehpur Sikri

See the photos and the sketchnotes. During these days I changed the itinerary on the spot from time to time to follow my intuition or my driver's advices.

Sketchnotes - The art of driving in India

Taking notes in the car while traveling was quickly discarded due to the mad Indian traffic or due to the bad road conditions. I was only able to write down keywords and some signs on the corner of my pages. At night, after a shower and a good vegetarian dinner (in different places every night) I was so exhausted that I felt unable to take decent notes or to draw. I still was thinking about my second week to do that correctly.

Sketchnotes from India - Along the road

After the tour by car, I left my driver in Delhi and, alone, continued my trip by train, towards the north. Well, I finally managed to start to fill in some pages in the train. It's worth to mention that this was possible only because this train offered me good conditions to do it. This was far to be the case in the train on return one week later.

Sketchnotes from India - From Jaipur to Agra

During my stay in Haridwar and in Rishikesh I was again faced to the same difficulties to take notes. Traveling by bus, tuk tuk or rickshaw is worse than by car. But I continued writing down keywords and signs, many signs, on another small notebook that I bought locally. Then I arrived in the Phool Chatti ashram, a heaven on earth, for a retreat of one week. I was expecting to have time to sketch, to write, to draw. Again, wrong assumptions... The daily schedule of the ashram was intense; see one of my sketchnotes on it.  

Sketchnotes from India - program of the day in the Phool Chatti ashram, north of Rishikesh

I also spent the free time of my first days washing my dirty clothes. I had the opportunity to work on my sketchnotes in the last days of my stay but in the meantime I continued with keywords and signs on the small notebook.

Sketchnotes from India - Some sacred symbols in India

The drawings of the meditative walks are the only pieces that I did on the moment while I was on the place. The watercolor on the banks of the Ganges river is even done with water from the river itself.

Sketchnotes from India - Meditative walks in Phool Chatti ashram, north of Rishikesh

My take-aways from this experience concerning sketchnoting:

  • Never plan in advance too much, be flexible and ready for the unexpected
  • Related to the previous point, and really linked to me: Put aside beauty and draw like it comes naturally on the moment
  • In case of lack of time or for any other reason, quickly write down a maximum of information on the spot, can be keywords or simple signs that will remember you what was your idea, your feelings, your impressions, the colours, etc [I use these technique when I practice live graphic harvesting at work during events]
  • When visiting, especially in crowd and choppy conditions, just take with you a small blocnote and a pencil. Leave other material in the car or in the room, they will be useless and they only risk to distract you from the essentials
  • Photography is also helpful to remember later what was seen to draw it

Last but not least, the best feedback I received on my return after I published my photos and my sketchnotes is about the latter. People told me that they were able to perceive more my emotions through the sketchnotes than through photos. Another proof of the power of handmade sketchnotes.




You can see the whole buch of sketchnotes and photos here:

Sketchnotes from India

Photos from India

All sketchnotes and drawings

I'm speechless Claudio! But there is one more of your sketchnotes I want to add to your story.

For our readers: Claudio live and work in Brussels.

Sketchnotes from India - How I lived Brussels terrorist attacks at 7500 km distance

Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this story with us, Claudio!


- Mauro